HONOLULU (KHON2) — The state’s battle against the coconut rhinoceros beetle takes a different turn with new technology installed in the traps.
Officials said it will actually be more effective and save taxpayers money.
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The State Department of Agriculture set up more than 3,000 traps around Oahu as part of an ongoing effort to eradicate the coconut rhinoceros beetle.
The invasive species is a threat to coconut palms and other trees. At one-point, dogs were also trained to sniff out the bugs. But, in January, the state said the battle has been too costly.
“We’re in the process of finalizing a revised strategy with the US Department of Agriculture which will focus on containment on Oahu,” said Darcy Oishi, acting plant industry administrator at the Department of Agriculture.
That includes working with the University of Hawaii to develop a more efficient trap.
“It’s basically a refinement of the same trap. We’re just adding in a camera, solar panels to power the camera, a cellular modem to report information back to us and something that tells us if it has fallen,” said Oishi.
He said the new technology will not only provide more information, but it will actually be cheaper to maintain these traps.
“This actually reduces our cost because right now, we spend a lot of money on people, cars and gas in order to check each of these traps, whether they have a beetle or not,” said Oishi.
He said the current traps cost about $800 a year to maintain, whereas the new traps will be about $200-$400 a year.
He said about a dozen new traps have already been installed, and the plan is to replace all of them.
Oishi adds that the idea is to get more details on how the beetles move around, find their breeding sites and destroy them.
Another part of the strategy also includes making sure the bugs don’t get to the neighbor islands.
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“We’re gonna be expanding our operations on other islands in order to make sure that we have vigilance over our high priority areas that are likely to receive coconut rhinoceros beetles,” said Oishi.
As for the cost of the new strategy, Oishi said that is yet to be determined.